Dr. Matolase Mtonga always knew she wanted to be a surgeon. But as a medical student in Zambia she found her true calling when caring for burn patients. “I needed to do more for them,” she realized. Then she met our longtime Surgical Outreach Partner, Dr. Goran Jovic—currently the only licensed plastic surgeon in Zambia—and learned how much more she could help these and other patients via reconstructive surgery. “From there it’s been a steep dive into this love affair,” she says.
In September 2020, Dr. Matolase began her final year of surgical training at the University Teaching Hospitals in Lusaka. Dr. Jovic and ReSurge have sponsored her training and helped devise a special focus in plastic surgery for her. Watching Dr. Jovic work has been an inspiration. “The dedication and enjoyment of what he does is infectious. He manages to do quite a lot despite the limits we may have to contend with, in terms of resources, with the help of partners. I am inspired to bring some of my own brand of hope to many people as well.”
Once Matolase completes her training and receives her certification from the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA), Dr. Matolase is eager to help shape the future of reconstrucive surgery in Zambia as the country’s first woman reconstructive surgeon.
“I hope I can grow the plastic surgery fraternity in Zambia, establish topclass burn care MDTs in the country, and increase options for patients for reconstruction,” she says. She’d also like to increase the amount of research being performed in her country. “We see many ‘rare’ conditions but have yet to share these with the scientific community.”
Above all, Dr. Matolase is keenly aware of the impact that reconstructive surgery has on her patients, especially the poor. “In Zambia, thousands would be crippled or even die without the assistance coming through ReSurge. We would be hard-pressed to reach and offer interventions to patients in the hidden regions we go to without ReSurge and its partners.” All in all, “You’re molding a world I like to live in.”